Hand Reared With Love
As the morning mists rise from the folds of the valleys at the foot of Mt Bartle Frere and its offshoot peak, Broken Nose in tropical North Queensland, we set off to hand pollinate every small vanilla orchid flower. The long, green, bean-like vanilla pod forms in a matter of weeks and then takes nine months to mature.
The “babies” are harvested by hand as they start to turn from green to yellow as the weather starts to cool the following year. Then begins the daily process of alternately sun-heating and sweating that stimulate the enzymes to develop the heady familiar aroma of vanilla. Over a period of months, the green beans lose five-sixths of their weight and are transformed into wizened, brown but flavourful and supple vanilla pods.